Healthcare reform was a key voter issue for the 2016 and 2020 elections. More than ever, America needs the ingenuity of its people, along with renewed brotherhood, self-confidence, and devotion to our ideals in order not only to meet the challenge to controlling the runaway costs in the healthcare system, but also to ensure equity and sound governance.
Inequity of access and disparities of outcomes have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic as emblematic of the corrosion of the fabric of our wider American society.
It has become clear that merely tinkering with the healthcare system will not fix it. We must fix ourselves as individuals and as communities. We must, yes, also tinker with the healthcare system, but also thoughtfully restructure it to serve people, not just the balance sheet. And we must fix our society, which healthcare serves to bind together in mutual solidarity.
Here are some key action steps.
- Reach outside of our “social bubbles” to encounter real persons in groups different from our own
- View media coverage of cultures different from our own
- View media coverage of viewpoints different from our own, seeking “radical truth” that constantly challenges our assumptions
- Seek exposure to the cultures and life experiences of others outside our familiar groups through arts, culture, cuisine, and celebrations
- Fortify ourselves with self-care – healthy habits, social supports, spiritual practices, and professional care when needed
- Build “bridging” opportunities through civic engagement and cross-cultural celebrations
- Participate locally in civic and social service activities
- Support news media coverage of cultural diversity within our region
As Healthcare Activists
- Inform ourselves about healthcare reform issues
- Seek variety of perspectives to challenge our assumptions (Recommendation on effects of racism at system and individual level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JMpl2Ui1JA )
- Reflect on purpose of healthcare; implications of lack of access; implications of corporatization, diminished marginal cost-benefit, opportunity cost of over-spending
- Reflect on healthcare as “privilege,” “discretionary commodity,” “right,” or “public good”
- Advocate for fair representation of all citizens and for reform of campaign finance – letters, donations, group protests
- Support leaders who champion constructive civic discourse; call out leaders who pander with fear and division
As the new President and new Congress who took office in 2021 wrestle with national issues, consider these action steps. Also, think about the following questions and tell your officials what you are thinking:
Do you agree that government of, by, and for the people needs to tackle real healthcare reform? Do leaders need to challenge all of us to set priorities and tame the healthcare tapeworm? Won’t all of us need to bend a little, and some bend a lot? What incentives will each stakeholder need to do so? How could this be done fairly and deliberately without excessive disruption?
Meanwhile, can healthcare reform be adequately addressed in isolation from the other pressing problems of our day – education, housing, jobs, immigration, global pandemic preparedness, climate policy, and racial disparities?
Americans have work to do on a “more perfect” healthcare system in a “more perfect” Union.
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